Over the weekend, Rocky Mountain National Park announced that an unidentified man had died somewhere near the Keyhole Route of Longs Peak. As of September 20, the park has recovered the body of Russell Jacobs, 25, from Westminster, Colorado.
On Friday, Jacobs had gotten lost on the 14,259-feet-tall Longs Peak when the weather took a sudden and drastic change. He had texted a friend to let them know of his increasingly dangerous situation. With Jacobs lacking the proper gear to spend an overnight on the mountain, the two relayed the information to park rangers who then contacted the climber to ascertain his location.
According to the park’s official release, Jacobs stated that he would try to move to the Agnes Vaille Shelter. Shortly after, rangers lost contact with the climber.
“Members from Rocky Mountain National Park’s Search and Rescue Team began searching in the Boulder Field and Keyhole area of Longs Peak on Friday afternoon,” the release stated.
Unfortunately, with “accumulating snow, ice, 35 plus mile per hour winds, below freezing temperatures, night fall and bitter wind chill,” park rangers had to move much slower.
“Rangers were able to reach the Agnes Vaille Shelter and could not locate the subject,” officials continued. “The search team set up shelter in the Boulder Field overnight in case the subject was still attempting to reach the trailhead. Searchers in the field reported snow and sleet continuing through the night in the search area.
With the weather worsening still, rangers picked up search efforts again just before sunrise on Saturday. Once the weather cleared, teams utilized a Med Evac air ambulance to search the Boulder Field.
However, in the end, park visitors found Jacobs’ body 80 feet above The Ledges.
Rocky Mountain National Park Closes Keyhole Route Amidst Recovery
During the beginning stages of the mission, Rocky Mountain National Park staff informed the public that it would be closing the Keyhole Route while emergency teams conducted the precarious task. Unfortunately, even at this time, it was clear that Jacobs did not survive the fall.
“The Keyhole Route is temporarily closed at the Keyhole to the summit of Longs Peak due to recovery operations for a deceased male above the Ledges,” the park initially announced on September 17. “The temporary closure will be in place until tomorrow and possibly Monday until the recovery operations are complete.”
Longs Peak is one of Colorado’s famed 14ers that attract mountain climbers from all over the country. The Keyhole Route, in particular, features enormous sheer vertical rock faces, often with falling rocks, requiring scrambling, where an unroped fall would likely be fatal,” according to the national park.
Additionally, “The route has narrow ledges, loose rock, and steep cliffs.”